- The Washington Times - Friday, January 14, 2005

Most street vendors in downtown Washington will not be permitted to use propane tanks to warm the food and beverages they sell during the presidential inauguration Thursday, when the temperature is expected to reach the upper 30s.

The Secret Service decided Wednesday to ban propane tanks due to security concerns, spokesman Jonathan Cherry said.

He said he was not aware if heating alternatives, such as microwaves, were banned within the security perimeter the agency has established for the inauguration.

The perimeter covers a wide swath of downtown, roughly encompassing the area from Second Street NE and SE to the east, K Street NW to the north, 23rd Street NW and SW to the west and E Street SW to the south.

Vendors who learned of the decision this week were outraged.

“If I don’t sell hot dogs, what is my business? I am a hot dog vendor,” said Berhan G. Adenay, who has operated her cart at Pennsylvania Avenue and 10th Street NW since 1992.

As a street vendor, Ms. Adenay said she does not have access to electricity, so she isn’t able to use a microwave to heat her hot dogs during the one-day ban. Propane is her only option, she said.

Ms. Adenay was particularly distressed because the fee she paid this year to obtain a permit to operate a propane tank in the city quadrupled to $100.

“I pay $100 for propane permit. Now I can’t use it?” she said.

The propane ban represents the latest restriction placed on the vendors during President Bush’s inauguration.

All vendors — including those who sell merchandise — will be limited to spots along G Street NW during the inauguration. The District will issue 58 vendor licenses Tuesday for the spots, which are on the 1000 and 1100 blocks of G Street.

“Frankly, [the vendors] are in a bad spot,” said Matt Hussman, public space manager for the Downtown Business Improvement District, a nonprofit group that promotes downtown merchants.

G Street is too far from the inaugural parade route along Pennsylvania Avenue NW, he said.

“It’s going to be hard for them to make money.”

Yesterday afternoon, Mr. Hussman distributed fliers that explained the restrictions to the vendors. It included an application for the 58 licenses that the city will issue for the inauguration.

The licenses will be issued on a first-come, first-served basis, Mr. Hussman said.

Mike Yohannes, a vendor near the Old Post Office Pavilion downtown, said he will apply for one of the temporary licenses.

Ms. Adenay said she never experienced such severe restrictions during past inaugurals.

Temperatures are expected to reach into the upper 30s with partly cloudy skies for the swearing-in ceremony and parade Thursday, according to the National Weather Service Baltimore/Washington Office.

The normal high temperature is 42 during mid-January, a forecaster said.

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